Red Brick Universe
Check out this fan's amazing Red Dwarf LEGO project.
11 March, 2016
You may well have seen a pretty fantastic Red Dwarf-based fan project go viral over the past week - a really rather monumentally massive model of the good ship itself, constructed entirely out of LEGO. We love a good LEGO build (other modular construction building kits are available) almost as much as we love Red Dwarf, so we immediately had to get in touch with the project's creator, Stephen Deaville, to find out more about what inspired him to build the ship, and how he went about doing it.
Stephen has been a fan of LEGO since childhood; and over the past five years began to immerse himself in large-scale building projects, with the assistance of his friend Simon Bennett, chairman of a popular fan group known as the Brickish Association. Having worked with several existing large Star Wars based sets, he decided to set himself the challenge of building something from scratch. But what should it be?
"My partner Stephanie is the biggest Red Dwarf fan I know," Stephen explains. "She can reel off all the quotes and tell you exactly the scene they came from. Also a fan of LEGO, Stephanie knew that I wanted to build something big, and conversation soon came round to the idea of Red Dwarf. Not only is it a favourite show, it also has a really distinctive ship; its shape and colour are highly recognisable and it's an icon of our own journey through our years growing up. As a first build, Red Dwarf also presents us with a relatively easy shape to achieve with enough challenges to make the build interesting."
Eagle-eyed fans will already have noted that the particular design Stephen based his model on - out of several to choose from - is actually the most recent seen in the show, Series X's chopped-down version of the Series VIII/Remastered-era redesign. What made him go in that direction? "I easily identified the version I wanted to build, not least because the latest version has a lot of good reference pictures on the internet showing the renovation of the actual filming model. The close up images of the model in the workshop provided me with enough reference information to start to build a LEGO version. I also really like the newest version of the ship. While the original stubby ship is classic, this version for me represents a more realistic image of the ship, keeping enough of the original design elements to still be called Red Dwarf."
So what particular challenges did he face in trying to pull off such a large and complex build? And where did he get all those red bricks from? "I spoke to my friend Simon about my idea and he was very supportive. He said that I pulled it off, I could even get it into a few Brickish Association exhibitions. He was so supportive that he turned up on my doorstep with a big bag, filled with all sorts of red LEGO bricks and plates. It was the best start I could have hoped for!"
"The key to Red Dwarf can be summed up in one word: geometry. Those maths lessons finally came in handy. Building six equilateral triangles (LEGO loves triangles) and bolting them together would make the perfect hexagon. The biggest advantage to this is that you also get six spokes radiating into the centre of the structure for strength and a great location to build a main central beam to run through the entire length of the ship."
"With the frame in place, the outer plating was pretty easy. The next challenge would be the front of the ship and structure to support the six antenna that thrust forward from the main body of the ship. For this, I decided to replicate the hexagonal structure from the main frame but much smaller. On this structure I built an intricate and elaborate frame from which the main antenna would be supported. This was a real 'eureka' moment as I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to build a structure that could support six equally spaced antenna jutting out from the forward edge of the ship. The antennae are crucial to achieve the look of Red Dwarf. The last main challenge was the circular engine section. How do you fit a round shape into a hexagonal hole? Trial and error."
After finally managing to construct a solid and stable model, Stephen then moved on to adding the incidental detail so familiar to fans of the small rouge one. "The detailing phase was the most fun. Stephanie's incredible knowledge about the ship came into full effect here as she suggested I build several elements seen throughout the series. As one example she suggested I build the Observation Dome seen in the early series where Rimmer goes to gaze at the stars as the sad music plays!"
"The finishing touch was to get the name plate made up for the ship. I found a wonderful company called Minifigs.me who were able to print the RED DWARF letters in red on a white 2x1 tile. They did such a great job and it really was the cherry on the big red LEGO cake."
All in all, the model consists of around 3,500 pieces, and took Stephen 150 hours of work to complete. But with all that hard work finished, he was able to move on to the really fun part: showing it off! "We drove up to the National Space Centre in Leicester for the Brickish Weekend exhibition, and put Red Dwarf on display with a load of fabulous LEGO models build by fellow Masterbuilders of the Brickish Association. The ship got loads of attention and both Stephanie and me had a wonderful time meeting Red Dwarf fans. The best bit was watching parents explain Red Dwarf to their kids who would say 'WOW! What is it?' to which their parents would recount their fond memories of the show."
"It was fantastic to see the reception the model got from the public and I'll certainly be willing to take Red Dwarf to more fan build exhibitions over the coming months. I've been asked to attend the Yorkshire Brick Show on the first weekend of May, as well as the Bricktastic show in Manchester first weekend of July, both of which I hope I can make."
And could he see himself taking on any more Dwarf-themed projects in the future? "I've had a few suggestions come through which I am considering. There is every real possibility that I could build an interior to the ship, and have a couple of panels swivel to reveal the bunk room and drive room perhaps. I've also had people ask me to build Starbug which is a possibility in the future - but it could be very challenging to get the shape right. Perhaps Blue Midget would be an easier start. I'm just glad that something I have built has made Red Dwarf fans happy!"